Sam was uneasy. He was distracted. What’s more, he wasn’t sure why. This was common enough at one point. It had been a while, though. Sam could name a couple reasons why he might be unsettled. But he wasn’t sure which was the cause. His lawyer friends talked about proximate cause. He needed one of them to tell him the proximate cause of his funk.
So Sam did what he always did when he was uneasy. When he was so distracted he couldn’t read, watch television or even sit still. He walked. He had errands to run. He could do those. But it didn’t matter how much time it took to run the errands. That wasn’t the point. Sam walked, and he pondered. Even brooded a little bit.
Sam needed office supplies, so to the office supply store he went. The store always struck him as odd. Maybe he didn’t have the luxury of a large office. Still, his office was an intimate place. It was his home, for all practical purposes. He had an apartment. But he ate at the office, slept there most nights, did most of his drinking there. Occasionally other intimacies occurred. They were usually conducted in his office, too.
Sam was happy with his small office. But the office supply store didn’t remind him of his office. It was a big fucking warehouse. Sam thought of it as a “make your own office” kit. Maybe it was like aquarium supply stores. Sam figured they didn’t really resemble aquariums, either.
Sam scrutinized a great many things when he was in a foul mood. He absent-mindedly walked around the store. These people looked like they belonged anywhere but an office. There was the guy with nylon running shorts. Shorts are one thing. This dope’s were shorter than any self-respecting man would dare to wear.
Then there was the very pregnant store employee. She cheerfully asked Sam if he needed help finding anything. He wasn’t looking for anything, and he wasn’t in the mood for cheer. Her wide mouth and wider smile revealed a tongue piercing. Sam didn’t know any other reason for getting a tongue ring. He doubted there was one. Her pregnant belly suggested the piercing hadn’t done much good. Or the guy was just insatiable. Either way, it wasn’t Sam’s problem.
On it went. Everyone in the store was going to hell in handbasket. Sam was a detective. He was just filling out the indictments. This one pushed the cart too slow. That one talked too loudly. Warm weather seemed to bring out horrible mothers. They were screaming blue murder at their kids, they were overly permissive. They were all doing it profoundly wrong.
He found it hard to be too critical of the braless co-ed. Her paisley blouse was probably garish. But Sam wasn’t too critical when he was watching jiggling tits. Hers were small, but they were big enough. They were just fine as far as Sam was concerned—and so was she. Still, he would have been damn critical if she actually stepped into an office in that get-up. Well, any office but his.
Voyeurism was small comfort, though. Sam paid for his purchases and left the store. He browsed thrift shops for neckties. He bought spaghetti for dinner. A succession of distractions—and minor irritations. But finally he headed back to his office.
Sam was just walking up to the his door when he paused. It was a very distinctive noise. He looked around. It was a plumber’s van stopped at the red light. He was listening to the baseball game. Sam listened, too. He couldn’t hear what the announcer was saying. But he could hear the deep steady voice. Then he heard it pause. He could still hear the crowd noise in the background. Sam smiled. The announcer was probably waiting for the pitch. That was good. A play-by-play man shouldn’t step all over the game. The announcer resumed talking as the light changed. The van rolled away.
Sam didn’t know if the pitch was a grounder to first or a home run. He didn’t really need to know. It was afternoon baseball on the radio. It was rare these days. It was still beautiful.
Sam would go back to fretting. He’d pace and mutter. He’d wonder. But he had a moment. A moment where all was right with the world. He shrugged. It was more than most people got.